One of the only pictures I had of Harry on his tour in 1966 was in front of I-House Taipei. It took me a while to identify where he was, thanks to Joe Lurie and other alumni.
I knew that the I-House Taipei had been pulled down and moved in 1992 and I also knew where the House had once stood. Arriving in Taipei, Grace Hong, a Berkeley alumni, took us under her wing and shared that she had been sleuthing about International House Taipei on Chinese language websites and blogs (something well beyond my very basic Mandarin).
The plans for I-House Taipei seem to have been drawn up in the early 1950s and the House was opened in 1957 in a central location. It was not a big House accommodation wise, from the information from a former resident and also a member of staff at the current House it seems like they could accommodate about 25-30 people. However it was a big cultural center and seemed to have sports facilities and a large auditorium.
The blogs that Grace found were mainly by people who had grown up around the House, because it was surrounded by army camps, which included family accommodation. So as children these army kids had liked visiting the House as they could play basketball etc…
Sadly in 1992 the House was demolished along with the army camps as the land was to be converted to a public park, Daan Park.
The new International House was opened around 1993, but is much further out of town and can accommodate up to 150 students. It was part of the International Houses World Wide group for a time in the early 2000s.
We visited the new House and despite the reception staff being slightly puzzled by my appearance (I probably should have phoned ahead), Betty, an English speaking member of staff showed us around a bit. There is a dining room and small gym. She said it mainly serves students from Asia these days. Despite looking like it could do with some investment to upgrade the building the ethos and mottos of International House were very visible. It is just a shame the the original building in its much more prominent and accessible location did not survive.
Postscript – other information found by lovely Taiwan I-House alumni Wei Lun Chen
It says that in the 1960’s, I-House of Taipei is a popular place for pop music concerts. At that time young people love rock and roll music (unlike their parents who usually listen to Japanese song), and there are bands that perform songs of western singers or bands such as Elvis Presley and the Beatles. These bands influence young people a lot and inspire young people to develop Taiwan’s own pop music. Therefore I-House of Taipei played a role in the development of Taiwan’s modern pop music.